Mission Statement

The Rocky Mountain Society of Botanical Artists is an open and diverse group of artists, collectors and admirers who share a love for the practice and perpetuation of botanical art and illustration with a fond focus on plants in the Rocky Mountain Region.
We encourage and participate in educational outreach, juried and non-juried exhibits, lectures, workshops and regular chapter meetings. The RMSBA is proud to be the very first chapter affiliation of the international organization, the American Society of Botanical Artists.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 31 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing on the Masters
It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover to your surprise that you have rendered something in its true character.
Camille Pissaro


Spring Radish, colored pencil on paper, Julie Terry. Julie tells us, "I think Easter radishes are such a reminder of Spring and that one of my favorite holidays is coming soon."
How About: Drawing a series of the plants that make you happy. Seasonal plants that speak to your heart, harvest bounty, the twigs bravely carrying on through winter...whatever moves you.

If you're looking for help in botanical drawing and painting, you can't go wrong with this book by botanical artist Ann Swan. This volume covers a start to finish method for botanical art and illustration.
Click HERE to see Ann's book online.
Summing Up: Well, you've done it! 31 days of drawing each day. It doesn't matter if it was 10 minutes a day, or hours at a time. You have ingrained your drawing skills into your very psyche, and your body has been trained to support the acts of drawing. Congratulations! We hope you have also gained the habit to draw so strongly that you'll feel sad when you don't draw every day. Then, you'll know your adventure as an artists is truly on its way. Thanks for participating. If you have images you still want to submit, please do. We'll post them right here!

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 30 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
 'To draw does not simply mean to reproduce contours; the drawing does not simply consist in the idea: the drawing is even the expression, the interior form, the plan, the model. Look what remains after that! The drawing is three fourths
and a half of what constitutes painting.
If I had to put a sign over my door [to the atelier], I would write:
School of drawing, and I’m certain that I would create painters.'

Orchid, graphite and white on toned paper, Susi Olson. Susi says, "My orchid bloomed while I was in Montana! I sort of thought they were dead; seems to like it if I ignore it. It has bloomed like crazy." This paper is a neat choice for an orchid, with an earthy organic feel and a spotty texture that mimics the spotty appearance of some orchids.

How About: collecting sketch books or just small sheets of paper that you can use for drawing and sketching. There are bound books of paper in many hues, and paper manufacturers will often provide you with test sheets, to allow you to try before you buy. Go online to your paper manufacturer and see if they don't have an artist support program that provides quality variety papers, free or at low cost. It never hurts to ask. At least that's what my cat has told me, and she pretty much gets everything she wants.
Click HERE to find a good discussion about toned papers in fine art.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 29 - A Drawing a Day

Frederick Franck from The Zen of Seeing:
I have learned that what I have not drawn I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.

As seen through a window, vignettes of a trip in Vietnam, by Marj Leggitt. There are great notes and drawings here, and Marj used the time in vans to
create some lasting images for her memories.

How About: Outlines, outlines, outlines. Use outlines only, also called a contour (following edges), or a cartoon (full outlines), to document things around you: landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, fruits, vegs, flowers, cacti, cats, dogs, lizards....

Click HERE to discover a lot of ways to use contour lines.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 28 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
'Drawing and color are not separate at all; in so far as you paint, you draw. The more color harmonizes, the more exact the drawing becomes.
When the color achieves richness,
the form attains its fullness also.'
Paul C├ęzanne

Shells and Leaves, mixed media, by Libby Kyer. I cannot walk the beach without picking up detritus. Leaves fresh, leaves baked, shells broken and whole, bits of wood, exoskeletons, seaweed, driftwood and small not-so-alive-anymore animals, like tiny fish and seahorses, are all interesting. So when it's too hot for the beach (doesn't happen often) or rainy, I like to draw the stuff I've collected.
So I have many drawings of flotsam and jetsam.

How About: Collecting the bits that interest you, allow them to dry, and mix and match them into drawings of interest.

This book guides you through a series of exercises that help you define your own style. We all worry about having individual style, when in fact, your personal style comes pre-packaged in your psyche! However, how you display that, where you want to tweak it, and art processes that will show you what you know, what you don't know, and where you might want to go are all included.

Click HERE to find your connections with this book.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 27 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters

A work of art goes through many phases of development, but in each phase it is always a work of art. (Therein lies the importance of sketches.) A work of art is finished, from the point of view of the artist,
when feeling and perception have resulted in a spiritual synthesis.
Hans Hofmann

Roses, mixed media, Marj Leggitt. Great study sheet of roses, analyzing form, thinking about composition, noting details, and indicating colors.

How About: Trying this exact exercise yourself. You'll want graphite, watercolor or colored ink (brush tipped disposable pens are great too), and a bit of time to plan things out in your sketchbook.
Click HERE for some great info about daily drawing. 

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 26 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Everything starts with a dot.
Wassily Kandinsky

A great bird's foot, created by a member at the DMNS bird drawing session in February.
How About: Stepping out on a limb, like our bird friends do every day, and looking at your specimens from a different vantage point. Perhaps from above, perhaps from a very low perspective so that specimens take on a monumental appearance, etc. New perspectives lead to - well - new perspectives! It's a good thing!

Click HERE for some daily exercises to tune up your art.
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Day 25 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
The very act of drawing an object, however badly, swiftly takes the drawer from a woolly sense of what the object looks like to a precise awareness of its component parts and particularities.
Alain de Botton
Black Bear Cubs, graphite on paper, Vanessa Martin. "Spent a few hours sketching today, these Black Bear cubs caught my attention.  Only downside was I parked myself unknowingly next to the button that when pushed by at least 100 children, made the horrible sound of a bear cub who lost its mother...it was pathetic.  Looking forward to my next sketching adventure...minus the sound effects. Thanks for letting me share." Vanessa
How About: Finding a drawing buddy. Having someone to plan with is great, because you'll be more likely to meet your commitments to yourself to draw, and you have the benefit of feedback and support from another artist.

I find having someone set exercises for me to do is really helpful, because I think it's hard for any artist to set themselves a task that doesn't already fit in their concept of what they want to do. Having a stranger lay out some plans encourages the artist to step outside their own art box once in awhile, to refresh and renew our desire to draw, draw, draw. Check this book out for some great exercises.
Click HERE to explore Art Escapes.
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 24 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing on the Masters
-on Leonardo da Vinci...
It is often said that Leonardo drew so well because he knew about things; it is truer to say that he knew about things because he drew so well.
Sir Kenneth Clark

Eggplant "pumpkins", colored pencil on toned paper, by Libby Kyer. I have always wondered what these little "soft pumpkins" were, and finally looked them up. They're a member of the eggplant family, and hail from Africa. Very popular now for ornamental uses, they look like a little bumpy pumpkin.
How About:  Hit the flower shops to find something really unusual. Create a series of drawings based on one species, doing each image in a different medium - graphite, colored pencil, pen, ballpoint pen and then a mix of all. You'll have five drawings that will make a lovely grouping.
Click HERE for an article on the value of working in a series for great art development.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 23 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing on the Masters
Learn to draw so effectively that it becomes second nature – almost another language. Carry a sketchbook at all times.
David Curtis

The EcoLodge, Viet Nam, mixed media by Marj Leggitt. Having such an intimate near item - the settee - with such a grand backdrop - the mist-shrouded mountains and distant - invites us to participate in this amazing view. This is a terrific drawing that speaks to the true value of drawings - powerful and inviting.
How About: Set up a scene with very near and very far objects and draw it, concentrating detail in the foreground, pushing atmospheric perspective for objects in the rear. You can draw a group of flowers or a scene in your garden, on your block, or all the way to the mountains. Have some fun!

Click HERE for a discussion about achieving atmospheric perspective in your drawings.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Day 22 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing on the Masters
Make a drawing, begin it again, trace it; begin it again and trace it again.
Edgar Degas 

Guanaeo (wild llamas), graphite on paper, by Vanessa Martin. "Here is another sketch I made at a recent visit to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. I recently joined a group of DBG artists who get together often and sketch/paint at the museum. We only sketch a few hours so we don't get bogged down in the details. In this sketch I really struggled with getting my proportions right. Trying different techniques of measurement, using my pencil and closing one eye I used the head measurement to base the rest of the body proportions. I was relatively successful but found I spent most of my time measuring. I am hoping to get to the point where my brain is trained to instinctively measure and I can spend more time just sketching. Thank you for letting me share." Thanks for sharing, Vanessa. I know we all struggle at times with finding the right proportions and using the best technique for that.
Knowing we all have our moments is such a support.
How About: Setting yourself the task of learning proportion. Draw a human figure, standing. Generally, a human body is 7 heads long, in addition to the head! See if yours fits that ratio. Work out the ratio of upper limbs to lower limbs, fingers to palms, toes to feet, etc. Leonardo da Vinci is famous for his study in ratios, the Vitruvian Man (below).
Repeat the exercise with another mammal, then a complex flower. It is said that you have to review 100 iterations of a given specimen to develop a "ratio" map, but just doing even a few trains your eye and hand to produce more accurate drawings. 
Click HERE for more information on ratios in art.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Day 21 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
An individual's ability to draw is... the ability to shift to a different-from-ordinary way of processing visual information – to shift from verbal,
analytic processing to spatial, global processing.
Betty Edwards

Gate latch on Orient Land Trust, pen, by Jan Boyd Haring. This neat drawing uses gray scale and one color, a rusty brown. What a perfect choice to present old metal around a gate. Small vignettes are a charming way to peek into the details of life.

How About: Find some nooks and crannies in your house or garden, select a format and draw your borders, and draw your own vignette. 

Great drawing and sketching in this book, with chapters addressing materials,  perspective, and other techniques critical to informed drawing.
Click HERE to explore a well-organized and information-dense volume.
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 20 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly discover the world.
Frederick Franck

Vietnam View, mixed media, Marj Leggitt. A Viet Nam view from Marj Leggitt's amazing trip to that fascinating country last summer. Note the use of the dragonflies, to provide "entrance" of the viewer into the image, as they provide a reference for the view.
Creating a good view/scene has some special requirements, not the least of which is inviting the viewer to step into the scene. Click HERE for some interesting notes about the composition of landscapes.
How About: Plan on taking a sketch book with some basic drawing tools in grayscale and color with you on your next trip. Bringing home sketches provides great memories with a frame!

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day 19 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
A critic at my house sees some paintings. Greatly perturbed, he asks for my drawings. My drawings! Never! They are my letters, my secrets.
Paul Gauguin

Cactus bits, colored pencil on toned paper, by Susi Olson. "Wow my little cactus finally has decided to grow! I think I should ignore them more often. I tried setting a timer to see what i could do in ten minutes." Susi Olson

How About: Taking Susi's tip, and setting a timer to limit your drawing time. Sometimes, a little pressure is a wonderful thing. If you step out of your own way, not thinking so much about drawing, but thinking about "beating the clock" you might find your inner artist takes over in very lovely ways.
For more discussion about timed drawings, click HERE!

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 18 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing.
Vincent van Gogh

A Wheat Head, colored pencil and ink on toned paper, by Libby Kyer. "This is an unplanned drawing, I just happened across a specimen I had of a wheat head I found in Wisconsin last summer. Decided to just go for it, rather than plan anything. Sometimes, it's a neat treat to do that. It did mean I ended up with some of the wands running off the paper, but I decided I liked that too.
So, all in all, it was a good moment."

How About: Drawing spontaneously. Find a subject and go for it. You've been drawing for 17 days now, every day. Let those skills have their heads, and see what develops. Your passion is as important as your subject!

The incredible range of marks on paper that develop into drawings is truly inspiring in this volume. See what over 40 working artists put into their sketchbooks, with drawings and words.

Click HERE to sample an inspiring book.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 17 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
My contribution to the world is my ability to draw... Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world.
It lives through magic.
Keith Haring

Studies of birds, graphite on paper, by Marj Leggitt. It's always wonderful to see a sure hand in action. There are no wasted strokes here, but there are over 16 birds illustrated on this sheet. The drawings are made with a confident, committed line, and that is the result of constant, committed drawing. Perhaps even, a drawing a day?

Want to take a look at some contemporary artists who exhibit online? Click HERE to take a tour of a large number of artists who find the drawing is their end-all be-all. 

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 16 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
A sketch has charm because of its truth – not because it is unfinished.
Charles Hawthorne

Clementine by Julie Ann Terry. Julie tells us, "
I have always wanted to draw a clementine. Isn't it a "cutie"!" Yes, it is, and her choices for composition are great! We see not the iconic little round orange fella, but a clementine with peel undone, one segment set off to the right,
and great reflected highlights. Easy to eat, so much fun to draw.
How About: Making fruit your drawing subject for a series of days. Find ways to explore fruit, cutting, ripping, grouping like or non-like subjects. Play with color combinations, and head out to a specialty grocery (Asian, Middle Eastern, Whole Foods) that has a huge variety of fruits we don't see often in regular grocery settings.
Click HERE for an inspiring look at an artist using mixed media very effectively to create a brace of plums. 
Most of our group do not live in the country. Yet, one needen't always head to the countryside to find suitable subjects. After all, the Impressionists painted anywhere they found a sight that interested them. This is a good book to get your toes wet, outside, drawing in urban settings!

Click HERE to page through

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Day 15 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Drawing includes three and a half quarters of the content of painting... Drawing contains everything, except the hue.
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

Colorado box turtle, graphite and colored pencil on toned paper, by Libby Kyer. This is a study I did for a little turtle who is the star of a book I am illustrating. I probably did 30 drawings before I came up with this one, which has the face I was looking for. She's unique, but I used probably 100 photos of box turtles to find her.

How About: Draw a subject using photo references only. Then, draw the subject from a live specimen. How do they differ? Did you use the same materials, or did one or the other reference group inspire you more? Can you tell that from the finished product? Drawing is more about you than the subject. It finds your take on a given object or scene. A close look at your drawings can give you tangible hints about what matters to you, and where your style lies.

Here's a book with more plein air work, drawing with watercolor, creating strong contours before or after color is laid in. A travel sketchbook is one of my favorite things, allowing me to keep in touch with my art even as I snap literally hundreds of photos to take home. Nothing beats a drawing done from life!

Click HERE to explore this volume.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Day 14 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.
Henri Matisse

Cactus in graphite and white on toned, textured paper, by Susi Olson. Susi says she did this drawing from a photograph, having despaired of ever seeing anything growing again during a 10-day trip to a cold, snowy Montana. Drawing is a great way of altering your immediate reality, pulling you into remembered places or tapping your memories of items you photographed for just such an emergency!

Click HERE for a nice explanation of one way to use photos for drawing. The author makes a good point - make sure you are using your own photo, or photos in public domain to avoid copyright problems.
How About: We all have so many photos we've taken as we travel, or simply from our own gardens. Take some time to organize your photos, if you're short on inspiration. You might want to gather them into groups by specimen, color, setting or subject. Regardless, you'll probably find something that intrigues you long before you get to the end of this task, and will find the drawing board calling you again.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 13 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Let whoever may have attained to so much as to have the power
of drawing know that he holds a great treasure.

Fall leaves, by Julie Ann Terry. "These leaves have been on my drawing table since fall and their colors are still amazing." Julie Ann Terry. Good use of cast shadow here to give us all an idea of the relationships of the leaves to each other, and the two long stems give this drawing a lively air.
How About: Make sure you have inspiration by saving specimens to work with when you have a moment. Save the plastic containers you get deli items or other food stuffs. Give them a good wash. You can pop a specimen or several into the container, pop the top on, and have your specimens in a safe, easy to store space.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 12 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Sketchbooks in general... seem to contain mainly studies for paintings... For me, the sketchbooks are more like a secret and wholly spontaneous jeu d'esprit and some of them I like as much as anything I have ever done. They are invariably without premeditation. I mean not only that I have no plan when I make them,
I also have no plan to make them.
Robert Motherwell

Grazing pony, ballpoint pen on toned paper, by Libby Kyer. This little mare was nibbling fast enough to move frequently, but in a very ordered step-wise fashion. So I started the image when she had her left foot forward, and waited for her to hit that pose again in 3 steps! After 3 or 4 repeats, I had her.
In drawing, patience actually IS a virtue.
Sometimes, its just as important to see what others are doing in art as it is to look at your own goals and skills. This book provides just that, a look into the minds of other artists committed to drawing.
Click HERE to go directly to this book and page through for more information.

How About: Head for the library or bookstore and check out a number of sketchbook and drawing volumes. Spend some time with at least 3 disparate artists' styles. Take a moment and sketch a nearby object in the style of each artist. What have you discovered about yourself?

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 11 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Let the object draw the picture using the ink brush as a tool.
Chinese saying

Scarlet Paintbrush, graphite on paper, by Jan Boyd Haring. Even though this is a limited drawing - we don't see the whole plant here - Jan has arranged the 3 items for great composition and strength. There's also a wealth of detail, and form. There's even atmospheric perspective, moving from left to right you'll see the depth
of the pencil tone lightens a fraction, making the front left item the star of this event.
How About: Design and create a drawing that uses the basics of all good drawings: format selection to suit the subject, create great form, add great details, manage atmospheric perspective. You'll love the results. 

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Day 10 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Drawing is the root that keeps painting alive.
Connie Sharp

A great watercolor drawing/sketch of a garden in Taos. From the deft management of mass and light, we know we're looking at hollyhocks, the centerpiece of this garden. Watercolor and graphite on paper, by Marj Leggitt. Watercolor has a fluidity that makes drawing a sensuous and satisfying exercise.

How About: Make your drawings today using watercolor or brush tip colored pens. You'll have the benefit of color in your drawing, as well as the power of well managed strokes.
Click HERE to see another artist's take on drawing and sketching with watercolor.
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Day 9 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
You can never do too much drawing.

Osage orange, actual leaf, detail of stem, brief colored drawing of leaf on toned paper, graphite and colored pencil, by Libby Kyer. Taking along some good tape is a great idea if you are going out to the field to draw. You can pick up a specimen and tape it into your sketchbook for future reference. Yes, it will shrivel and change color a bit, but it is still a reference, with good information about details. The touches of color provide a reference of true color of an undried leaf.

Here's a book that is fun and has a lot of good points.
Click HERE to go directly to Amazon.com and page through this 6-week course in drawing.
How About: Put a roll of tape in your drawing kit. That way, you have a way to affix your specimens while you're still in the field. Notes written directly next to the specimen, including color swatches, make it easier to complete your drawing or start a painting in the studio. 
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Day 8 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
I do not know if you bridle your pen, but when my pencil moves, it is necessary
 to let it go, or - crash!... nothing more.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Great little graphite drawing of a homes, with format clearly marked with borders, tonal values indicated to the right, range of hues indicated left, by Marj Leggitt. Close attention was paid to details and aspects of perspective, with
nice blocked in tree shapes in the back.

How About: When you are planning your drawing, think about the format you want the drawing to occupy. Mark it out with borders, and create your image within that space. Then, analyze the drawing to see if you might prefer working the same subject in a different format. Draw the same subject again, using a different format with borders clearly marked. Compare. Do you find a significant difference in your finished drawing? Do you like one better than another? Format is a great tool for focusing attention where you want it to be focused.
Click HERE for some ideas about how to get past a block if you just can't get into drawing today.

Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Congratulations Claret Cup Cactus

Today, Governor John Hickenlooper has declared the Claret Cup Cactus as Colorado's Official State Cactus. This great little cactus has proven itself in high and low locations, with a variety of water availabilities and on a wide range of soils. For the botanical artist it is a feast, with rich red flowers mounted on complex limbs covered in needles. Challenging and fun! So, congratulations little Claret Cup Cactus, we hope to see many celebratory drawings of you from our members.


Day 7 - A Drawing a Day

Drawing On the Masters
Assiduus usus uni rei deditus et ingenium et artem saepe vincit, or, as we say now  'Constant practice devoted to one subject often outdoes both intelligence and skill.'

Dried buds, graphite, colored pencil, white ink on toned paper, by Libby Kyer
Take advantage of your media. Mixing it up provides a bit more depth, good edges, and a little "pop" to the composition.

How About: Experiment with materials you have and find a set of 4 or five ways to make marks that suit your style. Anything from graphite pencils to opaque markers works. One really good white choice is a white Gelly Roll ballpoint. Provides great line, great dot work, on top of toned or colored paper, as well as on top of graphite, colored pencil or inks. Gotta love technology!
Click HERE to send your drawing scans to share.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You're invited...

Carol Till sends this invitation to us all, to see her work and others at a great print exhibit at Art Students League Denver tomorrow. She tells us:

Hi Everyone! I’ve got two etchings into this juried regional print show. I’ll be at the reception Friday if you want to come see me, very fine prints and eat some little cubes of cheese.



You're Invited! 

Pressing Matters:  
ASLD Celebrates Mo'Print
First Friday Artist Reception:  
March 7 | 5:30-8 pm 
Art Students League of Denver |
200 Grant St. | Denver 80203 

Celebrate Mo'Print with ASLD! From woodcuts to photo etchings
and everything in between, this exhibit showcases the breadth and
depth of contemporary printmaking in Denver and beyond.
Pete Christensen | Sue Crosby-Doyle | Sarah Fukami | Barbara Hale 
Katy Havens | Anthony Holmquist | Gayla Lemke | Linda Lowry 
Andrea Martens | Mary Mcauliffe | Mary Nehls | Jonathan Nicklow 
Elizabeth Rouland | Barbara Sanders | Marlea Taylor | Carol Till 
Chris Warot | Douglas Whittier | Sherrie York   
Exhibition Dates:
March 3-April 23, 2014
Art Students League of Denver | 200 Grant Street